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Newman becomes first woman to call O's game

@JoeTrezz
March 3, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Even in exhibition, when Melanie Newman hit the Orioles Radio Network airwaves for the Orioles’ Grapefruit League game against the Rays on Monday, it was historic. By handling play-by-play duties alongside Geoff Arnold, Newman became the first woman to call a game from the booth in club

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Even in exhibition, when Melanie Newman hit the Orioles Radio Network airwaves for the Orioles’ Grapefruit League game against the Rays on Monday, it was historic. By handling play-by-play duties alongside Geoff Arnold, Newman became the first woman to call a game from the booth in club history.

“It’s lucky that it gets to bring a light to the fact that females can do this job as well,” Newman said. “I don’t ever want my gender to be the reason I have a job. I get that it’s a factor and it’s going to make younger generations look up and say, ‘Hey, I can do that.’ And that is for both boys and girls.”

Box score: Nationals 5, Orioles 3

The Orioles have a multifaceted hybrid role carved out this year for Newman, who is one several new additions to the club’s 19-person broadcasting team. Newman said she will be a part of more than 50 radio and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television broadcasts each, a slate that officially begins with a radio assignment on Opening Day. Her duties will include a mix of play-by-play, color commentary and sideline reporting.

“Every other opportunity I’ve had came with having to choose,” Newman said. “Do you want to be in the booth? Do you want to be on the sidelines? To do a little bit of everything here and really bring out those stories, that’s what excites me the most. That box doesn’t have to exist anymore.”

In that way, it mirrors the roles Newman held previously as part of broadcast teams in the D-backs', Rangers' and Red Sox's farm systems. Newman spent the 2019 season as the lead broadcaster for Boston’s Class A Advanced affiliate in Salem, where she was part of the first all-female Minor League broadcast team. Newman has also worked for MLB Advanced Media’s statistics department in the past, as well as the ACC Network, ESPN and GameDay Radio.

She becomes one of four active female broadcasters in MLB, joining the Rockies’ Jenny Cavnar, the Yankees’ Suzyn Waldman and ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza. Newman said she learned recently that she was one of six female Minor League broadcasters.

“I was the ostrich in the sand until that point,” she said. “My parents never told me this was different. I was just doing what I knew I was good at, and I enjoyed it. I am fortunate to have clubs who backed me up and made me feel the same.”

Newman, who said she “was morbidly shy as a kid,” discovered an interest for print journalism in high school and began broadcasting at Troy University. Asked to name her influences, Newman cited Vin Scully, Auburn football and basketball announcer Jim Fyffe, Brewers reporter Sophia Minnaert and others. Newman said carving out her own voice involved “taking a piece from each of them.”

“I want awareness to be brought -- our gender, our race, really anything else shouldn’t have an effect on the job we are supposed to do,” she said. “As long as we’re good at the job, that’s it at the end of the day, and it’s fortunate that this brings a light to that.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.